Take a quick trip to Neverland with the opening of the Nashville Ballet’s 2021-22 season with Paul Vasterling’s “Peter Pan.”
Ballerina, Mollie Sansone, who dances Wendy in the show, shared with the Manchester Times last week what it’s like to return to one of the world-class ballet company’s more popular shows.
“Wendy is on the precipice of the transition from kid to adulthood,” Sansone said. She’s in the stage of loving being a kid, but at the same time dreaming and hoping of being a young woman or a mother one day,” she said.
“I enjoy playing that role very much. I feel that I can be a kid very easily, I act like I’m 12 years old and I’m actually 35. Adulting is part of life,” Sansone said.
Though the ballet has similar coming of age themes as the lead character Clara of “The Nutcracker,” Sansone said that Wendy’s character arc is not a journey into confidence. Wendy realizes that she needs to keep a childlike spirit as she moves into adulthood.
“In the end, she is grown up and has a child, and Peter Pan comes back to visit and bring her child to Neverland. You actually see Wendy grow up that way,” she said.
The ballet is choreographed by Nashville Ballet’s artistic director Paul Vasterling, the artistic director for Nashville Ballet, whose choreographed and directed, started with the organization as a company dancer, ballet master, teacher and choreographer.
“This is my third time doing Wendy,” Sansone said. “It was choreographed on me back in 2013, the first year we did it.”
Sansone said that first process of working out the choreography with Vasterling is always a wonderful experience. She explained the process is a give and take process with the choreographer.
“He allows the dancers to bring their individual selves to the role. He really caters to that.”
Sansone said in the third staging of this ballet, her role as Wendy has evolved as she has grown.
She dances the character differently, brings new perspectives to Wendy, through being at a different place in her life.
“I know and trust that Paul will appreciate those choices and allow me to grow with it. We are very lucky to have Paul to allow us to do those things,” she said.
To give Pan and the Darlings their wings, the dancers are rigged in harnesses. Sansone and the others are in full harnesses with anchor points in the middle of her back and around her hips. Pan, who has flips in his flights, has a harness that only attaches at the hip.
“It’s very challenging in the way it has to be very tight, so it’s safe while you’re in the air, which impedes the posture that we as dancers have learned our entire lives,” she said.
Also the dancers’ centers of gravity are changed. There’s a turn that Sansone performs midair in which she must adapt the pivot point, the axis that her body rotates itself around, to accommodate the shift in balance.
“I have to put my legs straight down, but you can’t be straight up and down because it throws off your turn. You have to keep your legs a little out in front of you,” she said.
This season is a return to the stage of sorts for the company. While the ballet was active during the shutdown, there’s nothing like being on stage.
“Things are coming back to regular routines, regular rehearsals, granted we’re still wearing masks. We had digital series, one outdoor show at Ascend Amphitheater,” Sansone said.
“But there is something about the theater life and the theater energy – there’s nothing like it. To feel that again and create that transcendence with the community coming to support us, it’s wonderful,” she said.
“Encourage everyone to come out and see us. Peter Pan is such a familiar tale. The story encourages family… creativity and imagination. It’s such an uplifting story, it’s something we need in these days and times,” Sansone said.
This reimagined experience will also include a newly arranged score by renowned British composer and pianist Philip Feeney performed live by a chamber ensemble.
Effective August 30, 2021, TPAC will require all patrons, regardless of vaccination status, ages 6 and up to be masked when inside the venue and for the duration of their performance. TPAC highly recommends masks for children ages 2 through 5. Tickets for Peter Pan are on sale now and can be purchased at nashvilleballet.com or through its Box Office at (615) 297-2966 x710.
The show runs Friday, Oct. 8 - Sunday, Oct. 10 at TPAC's Jackson Hall.
To reserve seats for groups of 10 or more, please contact the Nashville Ballet Box Office at 615-297-2966 x710 or email@example.com.